Like most students who went to college, Emily Proctor, 19, felt worried. But it was not just the idea of leaving her family and finding new friends that scared her. Proctor was worried about how he would fit as a total student.
“I was worried because I knew that part of college life, especially in the first year, was needed for drinking,” explains Proctor, who studies law at the University of Swansea. To alleviate his concerns, he enrolled in the university’s alcohol-free housing. “I did not want to be with people who are constantly celebrating and drunk,” he says. “I wanted to be with similar people with whom I could relax instead of going out every night.” Proctor, who does not drink alcohol because he was never attracted to him, has proven to be a wise decision. “In the end, it worked well because I have friends with whom I can stay and we could play cards, go to the cinema or eat out.”
Proctor is anything but an anomaly. According to a survey conducted by University College London, more and more young people are abstaining from alcohol consumption, with 36% of 16 to 24-year-olds being in full-time education without alcohol contact. Dr. Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study, believes that a general decline in alcohol consumption makes it more acceptable for young people to avoid alcohol. “It seems that non-drinking is becoming more and more normative, which can lead to more and more young people not drinking if they want.”
Eva Crossan Jory, Vice President of the NIS (Welfare) says that although alcohol consumption is still strongly linked to university life, high levels of debt and the pressure to be good mean that students are leaving less. “The level of debt means that less [students] have free time to get out,” she says. “We’ve seen an increasing number of students work during their graduation, not just in Saturday jobs, but often work almost full-time with the study.”
Universities are keeping up with this cultural change. A growing number of facilities, such as Swansea, St. Andrews and the University of Aberdeen, offer special non-alcoholic accommodation.
The universities are trying to get rid of the consumer culture that has been integrated into university life. The University of Aberdeen Student Union asks all its companies and clubs to hold at least one non-alcoholic event during the coolest week, while Bristol celebrates a series of non-alcoholic events during the welcome week and has increased the number of events Number of soft drinks in your union bar.
Due to the changing consumption habits of the students, the University of Hull has made several adjustments. “We know that many of our students drink less than five to ten years ago, and we have many students who do not drink for cultural or religious reasons,” says Osaro Otobo, president of the University of Hull union. “We reduced our club evenings from two to one a week.”
The students take matters into their own hands and found societies that are not about drinking. “Our social events include a hot drink and cake meeting every Thursday,” says Maria Marr, 22, president of the Sober Socials Society at the University of Newcastle. “We started the partnership in 2017 with 20 members and have now more than doubled to 57,” adds Marr, who has a master’s degree in professional translation for European languages. While not completely abotado (could take a glass of wine a month), it does believe that more students emerge as non-drinkers. “People recognize that it is not necessary to give in to social pressure, alcohol is one of the things to do when you grow up, but many people do not like the taste and think,” I do not spend money in that , “
George Pitt, 19, a medical student at the University of East Anglia, says that while there is an undeniable culture of college drinking, “alcohol is not the beginning and end of socialization.” Pitt, a member of UEA Societea, a club where drinkers and non-drinkers gather for tea, adds, “The reality is that most people do not care too much as long as they do not feel comfortable with them or trying them it is very easy to change “.
For those who do not have alcohol at the university, Marr recommends searching for societies and events where there is not a big consumer culture and being open about their habits. “Of course people will try to make you drink, you have to deal with it, but do not feel bad about not doing the same as everyone else.”
Proctor adds, “Sometimes it can be difficult as a lot of people drink a lot, but I could still make friends through my accommodations, companies, and course, it was definitely easier than I thought.”